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Updated: 06/10/2013 1:32 PM
Created: 06/10/2013 1:17 PM KSTP.com | Print |  Email
By: Maricella Miranda

WEB EXTRA: Tips on Preventing Cyber Attacks


Photo by MGN Online.

The nation has been grappling with how to protect people's online information from cyber attacks.

Here are some tips on how to protect your privacy online, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance's Stay Safe Online:

Protecting Yourself Online

Secure Your Wireless Router: A wireless network means connecting an Internet access point, such as a cable or DSL modem, to a wireless router. Unless you secure your router, you're vulnerable to people accessing information on your computer, using your Internet service for free and potentially using your network to commit cybercrimes.

How to secure your wireless router:

  • Change the name of your router: The default ID, called a service set identifier" or "extended service set identifier," is assigned by the manufacturer. Change your router to a name that is unique to you and won't be easily guessed by others.
  • Change the pre-set password on your router. When creating a new password, make sure it is long and strong, using a mix of numbers, letters and symbols.
  • Review security options. When choosing your router's level of security, opt for WPA2, if available, or WPA. They are more secure than the WEP option.
  • Create a guest password. Some routers allow for guests to use the network via a separate password. If you have many visitors to your home, it's a good idea to set up a guest network.
  • Use a firewall. Firewalls help keep hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission. While anti-virus software scans incoming email and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for attempts to access your system and blocking communications with sources you don't permit. Your operating system and/or security software likely comes with a pre-installed firewall, but make sure you turn on these features.

Other Cyber Security Tips:

  • Keep a clean machine: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that's an available option.
  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
  • Plug and scan: "USBs" and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
  • Protect your money: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with "https://" or "shttp://", which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. "Http://" is not secure.
  • Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

Other Sources:

Protecting Your Business Online

Spam: Unsolicited junk email can be received and distributed by businesses.

  • Opening spam through your work email puts you at risk of contracting computer viruses and malware that is capable of disabling your corporate network or and allowing hackers to view and steal data.
  • Distributing spam is another risk. Specific laws have established requirements for the type of commercial emails you can send to customers and potential customers.
  • If you or your employees receive spam, forward it to spam@uce.gov. The FTC uses this database to pursue legal actions against spammers.

Corporate emails to customers must abide by the following guidelines, as stated in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003:

  • Do not use false or misleading subject header information.
  • Do not use deceptive subject lines.
  • Provide all email recipients with the option to opt off of your distribution list.
  • Ensure that your opt-off option is still working for at least 30 days after you send an email.
  • Identify your email as an advertisement and include your valid physical postal address

Phishing: These attacks usually use fraudulent emails to trick consumers into sharing their personal data, such as Social Security numbers, or financial information (credit card account numbers, user names and passwords, etc.).

How Phishers Attack:

  • Fraudulent Emails: Phishers trick consumers by sending them emails that appear to be from a reputable company, such as a bank, retailer or credit card company.  These emails include Web links that take consumers to a fake Web site where they enter their personal information.
  • Keystroke Programs: Phishers use fraudulent emails to place programs on computers that record every keystroke a consumer types.  Phishers are then able to obtain usernames, passwords and other personal data.
  • Website Hijacking: Phishers can take over the Web address of a company and re-direct Web surfers to a fraudulent, but realistic site, which steals consumer information.

Reduce Your Risk of a Phishing Attack

  • Monitor or register sites with similar spelling to yours.
  • Provide your customers with an email address that allows them to validate that an email they receive with your branding is really from you.
  • Monitor returned email messages as phishers often may hijack your email address to send bulk emails.
  • Log your customer service calls and check for spikes in certain types of complaints such as a password inquiries and changes.
  • Check for unusual customer account activity that has large volumes of logins, password changes, purchases, withdrawals, etc.
  • Regularly search the Internet for use of your corporate logos.

Viruses and Spyware: They can enter your computer through emails, downloads and clicking on malicious links.

  • Viruses can enable hackers to steal valuable corporate, customer or employee information, distribute spam, delete files or crash your entire computer system.
  • Spyware programs allow hackers to monitor your online activity and steal passwords, records, and other valuable data.

Protect your small business with these tips:

  • Keep a clean machine: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that's an available option.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
  • Don't open unsolicited email: Email scams like phishing are among the most common schemes criminals use to steal from your network. Use email filters to block these emails and be leery of any messages that ask you to provide personal information, even if they appear to come from a bank or company you've dealt with.
  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
  • Plug and scan: "USBs" and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Other Sources:

Source: The National Cyber Security Alliance's Stay Safe Online.


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